‘Hands off our lake’


Long-time residents living on Queenstown’s picture-postcard lake are dead against controversial plans to commercialise it.

Four veteran residents are “shocked”, “outraged” and just plain anti Queenstown council’s proposal to permit “non-motorised activities” on mirror-glass Lake Hayes.

“I’m quite shocked about it,” says Louise Bell, whose family has owned lakeside land since 1935.

“I knew nothing about it at all,” she says, when Mountain Scene sought reaction to the district plan change recommended at the April 30 council meeting.

Fellow resident Lorraine Greenslade was also completely in the dark and thanked Mountain Scene for alerting her.

Greenslade: “I’m appalled. I think it’s awful.”

The 78-year-old, who’s had her Lake Hayes property 30 years, says: “It’s an outrage. This lake’s meant to be one of the most scenic and beautiful little lakes in the country - and it’s not going to be any longer.”

The present district plan prohibits commercial boating on Lake Hayes - the only local waterway with such a ban.

“Why shouldn’t we have at least one waterway that isn’t commercialised?” asks Mike Ramsay, another long-time Lake Hayes resident.

Council planners say: “Non-motorised boating activities have less environmental effects, such as less noise, boat wake, vibration, lighting and passenger numbers.”

Paddle boarding and kayaking are named as proposed permitted activities - other non-motorised boating operations may encompass catamarans, pedalos and fishing dinghies.

Liberalising Lake Hayes boating would be good for the local economy, officials claim: “This may encourage potential operators to set up small-scale tourism activities, as the costs of obtaining resource consent should be less prohibitive.”

It could also be the thin end of the wedge, Lake Hayes architect Fred van Brandenburg warns.

“It’s a lake that’s probably very under-utilised,” Van Brandenburg acknowledges.

“[However if commercialisation] is overdone and you have everything else that goes with commercial activities, that would be a bad thing.”

His neighbour Ramsay agrees: “[We] could be having water-ski boats on the lake because it’s the only warm lake around here.”

Ramsay suspects commercial interests are pressuring the council.

Like Bell and Greenslade, neither Van Brandenburg nor Ramsay knew anything about the recommended change.

Ramsay’s disappointed lakeside residents weren’t consulted.

“Most people who live along the lake would have wanted to be alerted - and I suspect most of them would be against it.”

The Queenstown Trails Trust - founded and supported by the council - describes Lake Hayes as “the most photographed lake in New Zealand”.

According to the council website, the Lake Hayes proposal and other district plan changes will be “notified” in the second half of 2015.